DateLine: 27th March 2011
Pakistan team manager Intikhab Alam, in an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, has denied reports that Shoaib Akhtar was not fully motivated for the huge semi final clash against arch rivals India in Mohali.
"Shoaib has been fully involved in match practice, and is available for selection. He's very much part of the squad and there is no question about his motivation or enthusiasm to play in this important game. Akhtar is ready for the semi final.
Intikhab - who has coached the Pakistan side to a previous World Cup victory in Australia in 1992 and the Twenty20 World Cup in England in 2009 - dismissed reports that Akhtar's focus was no longer on cricket after announcing his retirement from international cricket last week.
"The rumours about Shoaib no longer focussing on cricket after announcing his retirement are false. Shoaib has been training hard with his team mates throughout the tournament and it's been no different since he announced his retirement. He has taken part fully in training and not missed any sessions."
Akhtar has been nursing a long term knee injury and whilst he is available to the Pakistan side for Wednesday's match, Alam did admit that Akhtar has not been 100% fit at any point during the World Cup.
"I wouldn't say Shoaib is 100% match fit. He's been carrying a knee problem and has been in pain during the tournament, but to his credit has still managed to play some matches.
Alam didn't give away much when quizzed about whether the temptation for the touring selection committee would be to throw Shoaib into such a huge match as the semi final, rather than risk the inexperienced left arm seamer Wahab Riaz, who has been out of sorts during the World Cup.
"We'll have to wait and see. Let's see what happens over the next couple of days. We still have a couple of days to decide, look at the wicket and then pick our side" was the non committal response from Alam.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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